NEW DELHI - Dr Khalil Chishti, a Pakistani scientist who has spent many years at a prison in Ajmer, has been granted bail by the Indian Supreme Court, local media reported on Monday. Human rights activists have been pleading for assistance for him for years. The Indian Supreme Court has also agreed to hear his plea to return to Karachi and has asked his lawyers to file a separate petition for this.
Dr Chishti is 80 now, and is unable to walk unaided. He has to be carried to and from jail by two people.
He is accused of killing a man during a brawl in Ajmer in April 1992. He was visiting the Rajasthan city then to offer prayers at the famous shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.
In January last year, the Karachi virologist was awarded life imprisonment after an 18-year-long trial.
Sources said Dr Chishti’s case was discussed at Sunday’s lunch meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the latter’s one-day Indian visit. In June last year, Supreme Court Justice Markandeya Katju had requested Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to release Dr Chishti on humanitarian grounds. Acting on Justice Katju’s appeal, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot approved his mercy plea and sent it to Governor Shivraj Patil for final clearance. After that, Patil sent a questionnaire to the law department on various issues related to the case.